With the Taurus Mountains for a backdrop and the Mediterranean Sea front and centre, the Antalya area’s lucked out in the scenery stakes. The Karain Cave – once believed to be home to Neanderthal dwellers – dates back up to 200,000 years. Capping it all off is the Manavgat Waterfall – this natural wonder’s such a crowd-pleaser that it was once pictured on Turkish banknotes.
Bodrum splits its attention between age-old sites and modern additions. At one end of the scale, there’s the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus – one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Castle of St Peter, and an immaculately kept Roman open-air theatre. Ships, sea life and sunken artefacts are on display at the Museum of Underwater Archaeology. The party-seeking crowd, meanwhile, have lively nightlife to look forward to. They can add a floating beach club, steamy mud baths and the famous Bar Street to their to-do list.
If anywhere puts Turkey on the travel map, Dalaman does. This stretch, also known as the Turquoise Coast, is all serene coves, white sands, and blue-green waters – hence the nickname. Nudge your way inland, meanwhile, and you can’t move for sights including the Caunos tombs, Pamukkale and Turkey’s biggest crowd-puller – Ephesus.
Izmir’s put in the hard yards to reinvent itself over the years, and the result’s a city that flits between historic and modern themes. Konak Square’s a bit of a throwback, with a century-old clocktower, the Yali Mosque and an opera house dotted around it. Crowds of people flock here for photos, and there’s a bit of overspill from the whopping Kemeralti market around the corner. The waterfront promenade’s like hitting fast forward, as contemporary restaurants and swish apartment buildings line its sides.